Alabama Teacher Shortage

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Alabama Education Association officials say the state is facing a 'critical' teaching shortage and the problem is affecting schools in Dothan and Houston County.

The area is struggling to find and keep qualified teachers in Alabama.

The inability to fill these vacancies can be blamed on many things from low salaries to an increase in education requirements.

Either way, the need for teachers is urgent.

School systems across the country are facing shortages and schools in Houston County are no exception.

Superintendent of Houston Co. Schools Tim Pitchford says, "Math, science, English, foreign language, special education is terrible, even physical education, coaches,” he said. “Administrative application pools for assistant principals are low."

Officials say the shortage appears to have several causes, such as teachers leaving the state for higher salaries and signing bonuses, moving from public education to private businesses, and retirement.

Another big problem is the increasing turnover rate for teachers.

Pitchford says, "This is a problem that we've seen coming for many years. It's not just Houston Co. Schools, it's statewide, nationwide."

It’s a nationwide problem that's slowly, but surely trickling down to Dothan.

The Personnel Director of Dothan, Dr. Dell Goodwin says lack of funding is always an issue plaguing Alabama schools. "It is becoming a crisis. It's not right now for Dothan, or for Dothan City Schools as it is in other areas, like Mobile, has over 140 certified positions that are open right now. So, that's a big crisis."

Many education experts believe that if proper steps aren't taken to establish and strengthen education programs, the crisis will only get worse.

Pitchford says a possible solution to Alabama’s teacher shortage is to offer more incentives.

For example, new teachers in Georgia receive signing bonuses and money for relocation costs.

At this time, there are only a few teacher vacancies in the Houston County School System, and one in Dothan City Schools.